Journalist Refuses to Cover Pride Event at Fort Leonard Wood, "Comes Out" as Anti-LGBT

Categories: LGBT

Maurina never needed to make these feelings public, but a stray question on his Facebook wall launched him into an honest tirade, starting with this geographical notion he posted on his wall: "Promoting 'Gay Pride' in Pulaski County: This isn't San Francisco."

Maurina says he has "religiously based objections to homosexual practice," though he admits that gay soldiers -- like Command Sgt. Maj. Teresa Duncan, who is speaking at the base's pride event -- should have the right to their identity according to the law.

"They won, end of issue," he says. "They have the right to their views. They have the right to advocate their views. They won several years ago, and therefore I have no problem whatsoever with this sergeant major advocating what our law says she has the right to advocate."

See also: Ike Skelton: Overturning "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Not Family Friendly

Maurina knew opening up about his feelings on LGBTQ rights would be contentious and inflammatory. So why did he?

Maurina tells Daily RFT that he has two types of readers: ultra-conservative, not gay-friendly military officials, department of defense civilians, spouses and townsfolk who would revolt if he wrote about an LGBTQ event; and liberal, gay or straight-ally readers who understand a reporter can disagree with the subjects he or she covers.

Maurina says he knows what would have happened had he covered the event. "It would have been mean. It would have been nasty. And I would have gotten hammered. I'd rather have it this way, where I'm dealing with people who will listen to me."

Maurina's insultingly infantilizing view of his readership aside, it appears he "got hammered" anyway by people fighting back against his stance on covering the pride event. His Facebook post explaining his reasoning has more than 1,000 comments -- including from Pulaski County residents who say they have no problem with gay pride.

"You can pick and choose all you want, but it lessens your credibility as a journalist," comments Phil Herndon, whose Facebook profile says he's from Dixon. "But go ahead. Sit behind your computer. Judge on her choice, not her voice, and continue to represent just one side. It's the journalism America has grown used to anyway. You should be eager to report unbiased news so the public can make its own decision, or did you forget what reporters do?"

In the end, Maurina says he's still not sure if he'll cover Fort Leonard Wood's LGBTQ pride event. As he's said all along, he'll cover it if other journalists do.

After all, the event's speaker, a command sergeant major and soldier for 23 years, deserves the respect she's earned, Maurnia says.

"I may not agree with the command sergeant major's lifestyle choice, but I respect her choice to join the U.S. Army, and she deserves to be commended for doing that and for following the rules under Don't Ask, Don't Tell that let her get to her current rank."

The Fort Leonard Wood Pride Month Celebration Luncheon will start at 11:30 a.m. Monday, June 30, at the Fort Leonard Wood USO Club. Tickets are $10. For more info, call 573-569-0601.

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at Lindsay.Toler@RiverfrontTimes.com.



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